Over the weekend, I had an epiphany about men and women.

It happened while the Hubs was inadvertently playing footsie with me under the table at Chili’s, and he kept blunting the tip of my super-pointy-toed patent leather Nine West heels with his clunky clod-hoppers.
But he wasn’t trying to play footsie; he was just stretching out. Meanwhile, from the moment I sat down, I had demurely tucked my legs as near to the table as the laws of physics would allow, with the sole intention of avoiding the stubbing of toes on one another. This is something I do regardless of the shoe I’m wearing.
Every two minutes, the Hubs would kick me again in my beautiful shoes. And I would flare my nostrils and bug my eyes at him and say, “Really? Again?” And I pointed out how thoughtful I’d been to go out of my way to avoid kicking him. I mean, technically, my shoes could be considered a weapon. If I really wanted to, I could kill someone with them. In a pinch, I could snatch one of those babies off my foot and stake a vampire with it, or decapitate a zombie.
But even if I’d been wearing a pair of fuzzy bunny slippers, I would have still made a point not to kick anybody with them. I mean, how hard is it to keep your freakin’ feet to yourself? There’s only so much space under the table.
And that’s when it hit me!
The Hub’s annoying footsie-kicks had nothing to do with needing a good stretch. His kicks were about territory—a claiming of space. This subconscious territory-grabbing has been ground into our DNA over thousands and thousands of years of our evolution. Men take. Women give. It’s in our very nature. Not that the Hubs is literally trying to take territory from me; it’s just what men do, without even thinking about it.
You know how all throughout history men have been fighting wars? What has it usually been about? Territory. Or resources—which happen to be located someplace, and therefore it’s still about territory.
It makes sense though, doesn’t it? Imagine if you were a cave-dude and it was your responsibility to provide for your tribe. You would want to claim as much territory as possible, to ensure that your tribe had continuous access to an adequate food supply. You wouldn’t want to risk allowing others to share your territory and infringe upon your ability to feed your family. If you’re living off the land, you’re going to want as much land as possible.
But how to explain mybehavior? Why would it be an innate quality in me to take as little space as possible? Well, I guess if I were a cave-chick and I could never be sure when the family would have their next meal, I would probably take care of the most “important” people first: My big burly cave-dude mate first, since how’s he supposed to bring home the mammoth bacon if he’s too weak and malnourished to hunt? And my sweet little cave-children, since their survival would guarantee the continued existence of the tribe. As caretaker and food-gatherer, I would require the least energy of anyone in the family, and would therefore put myself last. I would not need much space to do my work; a small area for food-prep would be sufficient.
The Hubs and I really delved into this topic over dinner, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, totally subscribing to our own brilliance, and attributing to ourselves astonishing levels of insight and discovery. Eureka! The lifestyles of our caveman ancestors explained practically everything about our current way of coexisting!
For example, the Hubs and I each sleep with our own covers. None of that spooning under a single, fluffy duvet for us. Not unless I want to end up shivering my ass off in the fetal position, only to wake up and find that the Hubs has stolen the covers and jammed them all up in between his legs and under his arm-pits. Um… no thanks, I’ll get my own. I think there were times when he stole the covers just to get them away from me (you know… territory—it’s all subconscious), because I would wake up freezing to death and I’d try to grab the covers from him, but they were nowhere to be found… then I’d get up and search for them and discover that he’d simply taken them and thrown them on the floor on his side of the bed. That is just DIABOLICAL, isn’t it?   
I also can’t share food with the Hubs. I have now come to the conclusion that his total inability to mentally apportion the provisions at hand comes from a primal fear that he may not eat again for like, three weeks. And this, while I nibble daintily, rationing out each bite in an effort to lengthen the duration of my enjoyment of said provisions. But this is a wasted effort on my part, because it only means that he eats pretty much the entire portion, and I get just a few nibbles. That’s okay,I’m sure I can go tomorrow to dig up some tasteless root vegetables or pick some wild berries over in that field three miles across the grasslands. I’ll just have to bring a pointy stick to fend off the mountain lions.
Alternatively, if I try to ‘keep up’ with the Hubs’ rabid eating pace, I end up scarfing my food unwillingly, which is totally not an enjoyable experience for me. I like to eat slowly, so I can enjoy my food. I frequently ask the Hubs, “Did you even tastethat?” or I exclaim, “Would you calm down! No one is trying to steal your food!” But I finally understand now. I get it honey… I get it. On some subconscious level, you’re just trying to nourish yourself for the possible forthcoming famine, so that in your food-deprived state you can still build us a hut and dig for grubs with the tools you wittled with your very own hands.For now and evermore, I will just get my own bowl.
I think guys will also generally take the best or last cut of meat without even thinking about it, while women will take the smallest, toughest, or burntest hunk without a second thought. Men aren’t being jerks, they just need their strength for the hunt!
And how about the way we sit? Women tend to sit closed up—legs crossed, hands folded on our laps. Men generally sit with their legs spread wide open (or perhaps they do this because they don’t like the feeling of having their balls squashed between their thighs—I dunno), and their arms flung out widely, claiming as much of the chair-back as possible. They are subconsciously sending a message: I own this space.
I recognize in my husband this sentiment, an urgency really, of never having enough, never being safe from need – he suffers an unrelenting imperative to supply and provide, to somehow get to a point where he can feel there is no longer a want for anything. I used to think he was materialistic, but now I’m starting to see it as more of a primal need to feel that he is truly ‘manly’ at his core. Not that I care about any of that materialistic crap. I could do with a smaller house, less space, humbler clothes, fewer possessions. But I love that we are his ‘tribe’ and that he will do whatever it takes to take care of us.
And from now on, when he kicks me under the table, I’ll assume it’s not because he’s unobservant of our surroundings and disrespectful of my personal space, but rather that he has claimed a space around himself, and that I am in that space, a part of that space, sharing that space with him. And I will be grateful that he has, however unwittingly, preserved the primal instinct to bolster himself for the stressful if not strenuous art of providing for the tribe. Because if he hadn’t, I might not have been afforded the luxury of the occasional frivolity of patent leather pointy-toed heels.

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  1. I absolutly agree and love this post!!! Great thinking, and thanks for sharing…elisa

    • Glad you liked it! I’m sure I’ll still get irritated when the Hubs acts like a caveman, but it helps a little to pretend I understand where he’s coming from. 😉

  2. Lol, the blankets! The blankets! My husband throws them on the floor as well….. he doesnt even NEED blankets! He would sweat through a snow storm! Grrrrr…. love the post! Made me LOL

  3. So yeah, now you need to read Burnt Toast. I think that the taking less as women may have been a biological imperative in the cave days, and it’s also just granted that those women were mothers. However in today’s society, I don’t think that it’s women who take less, but specifically mothers. I think that we are conditioned by something in our inherent nature and by those squishy little baby cheeks to make sure everyone has before we do. But that can lead to a whole host of issues. It’s important to find balance and do things for yourself while still being a selfless person. You did that with the Tough Mudder, but even that is something that you still did as a family. I know that I need to do something that is for me and only me. When I figure out how to do that, I’ll let you know. 🙂 Great post, as per usual!

    • Although I may make little subconscious efforts at diminishing myself, I am 99% selfish. See the post I wrote about how two kids is enough. The Hubs does have some caveman tendencies, but since he married ME, he’s been forced to evolve–and he’s not shy to admit it, either. 😉

  4. Okay, I hope this doesn’t come off too rant-y. (Which is never a good start to anything.) But…this sounds a lot like the whole “boys will be boys” thing, which I think is a tad too permissive, and I think it’s built more of our societal silent approval of the “taker” mentality as somehow being manly. It’s not. There’s nothing about having a penis that justifies being thoughtless or selfish. At least, not in 2013 (or for a long time now, for that matter).

    Tied up in this concept is a lot of other icky stuff, like the concept that being manly also prohibits showing emotion, and requires domination of other people, specifically women. Brené Brown has a lot of compelling data on how this contributes to shame for men, which is never a good thing.

    I think challenging gender stereotypes is good and healthy, and will go a long way in making a safe tomorrow for men and women.

    Okay, now I need to make a joke about penguins and Jack Daniels or something. Being too serious for too long makes me feel funny.

    • Oh you needn’t worry, Melanie, I share your ideas whole-heartedly. (“Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus” was a STUPID HORRIBLE book!) This post was meant to be entirely tongue-in-cheek! 😉

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